September 23, 2008

OpenWorld - Tuesday, Sep. 23

11:00PM - Evening Wrap Up

After the Excellence awards, I went back to the Oracle Hyperion reception that was joint hosted with the OAUG Hyperion SIG.  When I got there, the room was packed so tightly no one could breathe.  Remember how I said that the room held 300 people?  They apparently let in four hundred and fifty.

I had a nice talk with Rich Clayton towards the end of the night.  He congratulated us on the EPM Solution of the Year award win.  He expressed to me his appreciation of how of the smaller partners deliver high quality solutions that are quite often better than the huge multi-national conglomerate consulting firms.  Rich is a great guy, and I was sincerely grateful for his words of encouragement.  I complimented on his ability to move the mouse during the "demo" at Kurian's keynote using only the power of his mind. Although the reception was supposed to end at 8PM, I didn't get out of there until 9:30.

After the reception, I stopped at a Thai restauraent with a friend of mine from the Oracle community.  It was probably the best food I've had since arriving in San Francisco.  I ate a huge bowl of Tom Kha (vegetarian) and took some Green Curry (with tofu) back to the hotel.

I've got a meeting at 7:45AM, so now it's off to sleep.  And by sleep, I mean watch on iTunes the season premiere of Heroes...

7:30PM - Oracle Excellence Awards

The Oracle Excellence Awards were held in the Oak Room of the Westin St. Francis.  It was a much smaller venue than the Titan Awards from Saturday.  Whereas the Titan Awards were in a grand ballroom with thousands of people, these awards are held in a smallish room holding fewer than 200 people.  Hey, it's only the second year of these awards, and they'll be getting bigger each year, I'm sure.

Pearson Education, one of interRel's best clients and the largest textbook manufacturer in the world, won an Oracle Excellence Award for the implementation we did with them of Hyperion.  Pearson asked me to come up and be in the picture which was very nice.  They also showed the interRel logo on the screen at the front of the room as a "Supporting System Integrator" which I didn't expect at all.

We ate some free appetizers (actually, I didn't because they were all beast-based) and after a Coke, I'm heading back to the Hyperion reception at the Hyatt.

6:25PM - Oracle Hyperion Reception

I just left a reception for Hyperion customers and partners at the Grand Hyatt Union Square.  It was packed.  Kristin Newman from Linium (and a really good friend of mine) arranged the logistics for the event, and she did a great job.  The room the event was held in was the Bay View Room on the 36th floor of the Hyatt.  It had a panoramic view of the bay to the West and the city to the South.  It was gorgeous.  The room holds about 300 (it's half the top story of the Hyatt)  and right now, it's about 1/3 full.

Kristin arranged for a 3 feet tall cake.  It has multple levels and around the edges of the cake are edible scale models of Oracle HQ, Oracle's sailing yacht, and the Oracle racing plane.  It's one of the most impressive custom cakes I've ever seen.  Kopcke and Gersten are showing up later to cut the cake and it almost seems like a travesty.  Kristin also arranged for lots of free food and several open bars, just so we know we're at Oracle OpenWorld (home of free food and open bar).

I'm running out now to go to the Oracle Excellence Awards at the Westin St. Francis.  Luckily, it's about a block from here.

5:46PM - Oracle OLAP and Essbase

I got to the presentation late.  Luckily, there was plenty of seating.  The room probably held ~500 and was maybe 1/4 full.  Ray Roccaforte was delivering the presentation.  He started off by saying that both Oracle OLAP and Essbase are Oracle's strategic directions for OLAP.  "But wait!," you scream in confusion. "How will I know which one to use?"  Well, here was Ray's exact quote as best as I could capture it:

The difference is in the target audience....If you're consolidating data, the OLAP option is probably your best bet.  If you're more interested in being more software compliant and merging with different systems, Essbase is your best bet.
Ray elaborated on Oracle OLAP by saying that it's more of an IT product than a business product and is designed for people who are more "rationally focused."  Interesting move referring to business users as not rational.  He added that "our target audience with Oracle OLAP is SQL application developers.  It's all about improving BI applications in the Oracle database."  He concluded his portion by saying that Oracle OLAP is best on an Oracle data warehouse.  By "best," I think he means that you should only use Oracle OLAP on a Oracle data warehouse.

John Kopcke came out next to talk about when to use Essbase.  He started by saying that the target audience of Essbase is end users and primary sponsors of Essbase implementations are lines of business (not IT).  Kopcke continued with the theme of "Oracle OLAP is for IT and Essbase is for business."  He had a cute quote:

The Essbase users are the business users, the ones with the ties on. If you're in a shirt with the top button open, you're probably more interested in Oracle OLAP.

I get a kick out John's presentations, as you can tell.  He also said that Essbase should definitely be used when data is coming from multiple sources.

So what did we learn?  If you have an Oracle data warehouse and want to rack and stack you some data warehouse, use Oracle OLAP.  In all other cases, use Essbase.  I can actually see situations where we would want to use both together.  For instance, take your Oracle data warehouse, roll it up with Oracle OLAP, and create an Essbase 11 xOLAP cube (basically, a virtual cube that sits on top of a relational product) to make it easy for your users who like an Essbase like engine.  The data would then sit in Oracle OLAP while users accessed a transparent Essbase cube.

I know have to race to the Hyperion reception at the Grand Hyatt.  My feet are killing me.  Santa, please give me a Segway for Christmas.  I've been a good (enough) boy.

4:50PM - Thomas Kurian Keynote (now with more Kurian)

When Intel finished at 3:28, one third of the room left.  They were here just for the commercial?  That strikes me as very weird.  Maybe they thought it was all over?  Ah, many of them are now coming back.  Silly people.

Thomas Kurian, SVP of Oracle Fusion Middleware, came out at 3:30 on the dot.  The man is prompt, I'll give him that.  He's talking about Oracle Data Integrator (and other data translation products) at the moment, but there's nothing earth shattering being said.

Hey, he just said "Oracle Hyperion Data Relationship Manager" (formerly known as Hyperion MDM)!  He's just showing how it's part of the Oracle Data Integration Suite.  Rich Clayton (a former Hyperion guy and now a director in the Oracle EPM Product Marketing group) was just brought out on stage to demo aspects of the Oracle Data Integration Suite.  Wait, Thomas Kurian said demo, but it's really a recording of a demo done at some point in the past.  Basically, we're listening to Rich Clayton narrate a video.  I guess that means that we won't be treated to any sudden software crashes during the "demo."  Note to Rich: it's not as obvious that it's recorded if you leave a hand near the computer when the mouse is moving.  Rich, a friend of mine, did get a nice round of applause as he left the stage just now.

Thomas is now talking about all the new Essbase 11x features.  He just misstated that "Essbase can now stay up and running while users are submitting data through Planning."  Um, it always did that.  I think he meant that Essbase 11x ASO cubes can stay up during retrieves and submits even submissions from users.  He also said that "Essbase now can combine multiple cubes into one on the fly."  Again, it has done that for years.  I think he meant that Essbase ASO cubes can now be targets of transparent partitions and he was trying to explain that to non-Essbase users.  He did mention that Essbase 11x has new time intelligence and allows text in an Essbase cube.  I would have led with "Essbase can now handle text in the cube" but that's just me.  He did talk briefly about the existence of the new Essbase Studio, but didn't explain why it kicks EIS ass.

He's now talking about Smart View (now called Oracle Smart View for Office) and Oracle Smart Space. He's on a Hyperion roll, but there's no new information beyond standard marketing.  It's just nice to see Oracle talking about the former Hyperion products during a keynote.

Rich Clayton just came back out to do some more video narration.  He's starting off with a dashboard in Oracle EPM Workspace (formerly Hyperion Workspace).  Rich is talking about how cool page dropdowns are when they are linked to the entire dashboard.  Yes, dropdown page filters are handy, but not exactly cutting edge.  The recorded demo from Rich is a bit too "look at how we're doing things like conditional formatting or multiple sources on a grid" for me.  I tend to shy away from a feature-centric demo and go more for of the "and how does this help me?" demo.  Considering most of the people in the audience are IT (whereas I'm a finance guy at heart), a technology demo may very well be appropriate.  People around me seem to be interested.

I do like how Rich Clayton and Thomas Kurian keep saying "Essbase" over and over.  It's music to my ears.  Rich just showed OBIEE Publisher sitting on top of Essbase.  I didn't realize that the new version of Publisher could do that.  Maybe I should spend next week learning all the new OBIEE features?  Rich just left to another round of applause (his third, I believe) while Thomas gave some statistics about how fast Essbase is.

Thomas is now talking about Oracle EPM Architect (note that there's no "Hyperion" anywhere in the name), Oracle Hyperion Planning, Oracle Hyperion Profitabiltiy and Cost Management, Oracle Hyperion Financial Management, Oracle Hyperion Financial Reporting, 

He just said that one of the new features of Hyperion Planning are the Workforce planning and CapEx Planning modules.  No, these have been around since System 9.3 (and earlier, in the case of Workforce).  I wonder who vetted this speech?  Weird.

Rich Clayton came out again.  This time he's talking about integrating Oracle eBusiness Suite and Oracle Hyperion Financial Management.  He started off in Hyperion Financial Reporting and talked about the new annotations available in Financial Reporting 11x.  He then jumped over to HFM, right-clicked on a number, and jumped out to Hyperion FDQM.  He then clicked on a transaction in FDQM and jumped out to Oracle eBusiness Suite.  That's remarkably powerful integration.  I'd like to see this same capability for other GLs (notably, SAP).

Rich is now demonstrating PowerPoint.  No, not PowerPoint slides; he's showing how to access Hyperion Planning data from inside PowerPoint (via Smart View).  He just jumped from PowerPoint over to Excel to show Smart View in Excel.  He's now showing a brief demo of Hyperion Profitability.

Did I mention I'm impressed that all of Kurian's demos so far have been about Hyperion products (and in some cases, how they integrate with OBIEE)?  It gives me a warm feeling inside.  Rich just left to a third round of applause.

I would like to advise the Oracle keynote speakers (all the speakers, actually) to add some humor to their presentations.  Don't be so dry: people are more receptive to information when they're having fun, smiling, and not falling asleep.  I haven't the audience laugh in at least an hour, and that's not good.  By the end of the keynote, half the room had left.  Not a good sign, so make it more interesting, for your sake and ours.  Maybe all of the top people from Oracle could get together and write a wacky musical about the software industry?

While we're being critical of speakers, may I also advise that the keynote speakers not read everything off teleprompters?  First of all, it's weird to see all of the keynoters looking down at their feet (where the teleprompter screens are) half the time.  Second of all, if you're reading, you're not being spontaneous.  You can't react to your audience.  If your audience is bored with what you're saying, you can't try a different approach, because you're a slave to the prompting gods.  If you're worried about forgetting where you are, may I suggest you have the teleprompter just show you the bullets you want to be covering?  Or you could memorize your talking points, perhaps.  I'm just saying.

In case you're wondering why I've stopped blogging about what's actually going on in the room around me, it's because Thomas Kurian has switched from BI/EPM to the other fusion technologies.  While those are probably great fun at parties (and they have great personalities), I'm not terribly concerned with those other products.

There's a demo going on right now of Oracle Beehive (catchy, eh?) which Oracle describes thus: "Oracle Beehive provides a centralized, secure and auditable collaboration platform that helps organizations reduce the cost and complexity of regulatory compliance and legal discovery."  If you have any idea what means, please feel free to send an e-mail to  It seems to be about increasing collaboration (via e-mail, IM, wikis, portals, mobile phones, or whatever) across a company.  Think "Web 2.0 but focused within a company."  Now why couldn't the Oracle marketing department just say that?

Speaking of marketing, Oracle just issued a press release about customers who have "selected or evaluated" Hyperion 11x.  They actually included a quote from me (or someone making up a quote and attributing it to me) on the release.  Here's the quote.  Note that it sounds nothing like me:

“The latest release of Oracle’s EPM System includes hundreds of feature enhancements that will help improve user experience and simplify application administration for our customers,” said Edward Roske, CEO of interRel Consulting. “The new Hyperion Calculation Manager redefines enterprise integration and user accessibility while the enhancements to Oracle Essbase solidifies its position as the world’s leading OLAP server."
The room is now 90% empty.  I guess that's because it's now 4:45.  I wonder why it's running so much over?  I could walk out to go to Kopcke's presentation on "Oracle's Strategic OLAP Technologies - Essbase and Oracle OLAP Option" but it doesn't seem right to walk out on a keynote.

Thomas Kurian just called an abrupt end to the meeting.  I'm going to run to Kopcke's presentation at the Marriott and see if I can still get in.  Here I go running...

3:15PM - Thomas Kurian Keynote (brought to you by Intel)

I got to the Thomas Kurian Keynote a little after 2.  I stopped off to get one of Oracle's vegetarian boxed lunches.  While the food at OOW is nothing to blog home about, they are vegetarian friendly... if you can find where they hide the vegetarian food.  The main lunch places only have meat-based food, because they put all the "special meals" in one specific lunch spot: the Sinking Ship pavilion in the Yerba Buena Gardens (in what Oracle calls the "Green Marketplace").  When I finally found it, I was extremely impressed at the variety of special meals: vegan, lacto-vegetarian (I never see that), kosher, halla, Indian, gluten-free, lactose intolerant, and more.  Now that said, my lacto-vegetarian meal was basically tofu on salad in a boxed lunch and definitely not filling.

While people were getting seated, I was treated to a cello quartet by a nice young lady.  Yes, it was a single person.  She played along in front of the room and recorded it.  She would then play it back with a foot pedal and play along live with the recording all the while recording this.  She'd then play this recording back and play along with (and so ad infinitum).

This keynote is much better attended than the other things I've been to in this hall so far.  The room seems to be mostly full.  (I'm speculating that they're not holding any competing events right now.)

Safra Catz from Oracle just came out to introduce Paul Otellini, CEO of Intel (not to be confused with interRel).  Paul is going to be talking about "how Intel is driving the pace of Moore's Law to deliver innovative solutions that will enable enterprises to use time to their advantage."  He has a nice blue background and he came out after an interesting video homage to the concept of time.  It showed how clocks have evolved over the last thousands of years and included various slow-mo and fast-mo images with quotes about time from famous thinkers flashing across the screen.

He just mentioned that Intel is working on the flux capacitator from Back to the Future (though he added that they haven't perfected it yet).  We're going to presume he was joking (but if not, it's very cool that Intel is going to be the market edge leader in time machines).  He's been talking about linear and exponential improvements in the speed of business.  There hasn't been any EPM content, but there have been a lot of pretty pictures flowing across the screen.

A woman from a medical imaging firm just came out and showed us 3-D images of blood flow in brains.  I don't know what it has to do with Oracle, but brains are cool.

I think Thomas Kurian will be coming on at about 3:30.  Until then, I think I'll be taking a power nap.

1:22PM - Hyperion Performance Scorecard

I sat in the Scorecard session for about 20 minutes.  Unlike the "BI Roadmap" presentation (that was standing room only), there were only 65 people in this room.  I was hoping to hear about the future of Performance Scorecard.  Unfortunately, this presentation was more of an introduction to the topic.  This is, admittedly, exactly what the abstract said it was going to be, so my hopes were minimal.

I just left the Scorecard session and now I'm off to find something to eat.

1:02PM - Book Signing

I just spent 30 minutes at the Oracle bookstore in Moscone West signing copies of "Look Smarter Than You Are with Essbase."  A lot of people came up, glanced through the book, asked "are you the author?", and when I said yes, they asked, "so what is this Essbase thing Oracle bought anyway?"  I enjoyed talking with everyone (I love to educate people on Essbase, Hyperion, and now Oracle EPM) but it did teach me something.  A lot of the Oracle user community has heard about Essbase, but hardly anyone understands what it does.  BI and EPM are not cool well defined concepts like GL, ERP, CRM, and the like.  Calling Essbase an "OLAP tool" way oversimplifies what it can do.  Oracle needs to define where Essbase fits in the enterprise, because right now there's confusion and no one wants to see Essbase pigeonholed into the Finance group again.

12:23PM - Business Intelligence Roadmap and Strategy

I was 5 minutes late getting into the room, because the place is packed.  The line to check in to the room was over 150 feet long.  It literally went down the hall and around the corner.  Paul Rodwick from Oracle is talking about the current and future world of BI/EPM at Oracle.  Please remember that all this information is speculative, so Oracle is likely to change their minds at the drop of a hat.  For the moment, though, this is their plan.

Paul has been offering up some great insight to Oracle's strategic direction for various Hyperion and OBIEE products.  For instance, Paul just said that "Hyperion Workspace has been adopted as the primary interface to Business Intelligence information at Oracle.  [Hyperion Workspace] has been renamed the Oracle EPM Workspace."

The three major components of Oracle's BI Foundation are Essbase, BI Server, and Predictive Analytics (Oracle Real-Time Decisions).  I'm glad to see Essbase in there as a key component of Oracle's BI strategy.

He said that HFM is Oracle's go-forward product for global consolidations like Planning is for budgeting.  I heard this from Kopcke on Sunday, but it's good to hear it reiterated.  He also said that Oracle's strategic direction for dashboards is not Interactive Reporting but rather OBIEE Dashboards.  He also said their strategic direction for ad-hoc querying is OBIEE (Answers, I'm presuming, but he didn't specify).  This is, I think, the last nail in the coffin of Web Analysis.  I'd heard this before, but never in an official setting.  Paul had a slide that showed Oracle's direction for canned reports is OBIEE (presumably Publisher) and not Hyperion (SQR Production Reporting).

He reiterated that the installation of System 9 took up to 270 screens of installation prompts whereas 11.1 takes only 8 screens to install everything.  While 11.1 is easier than System 9 to install, there are still some tricks to it, so don't think it's a walk in the park.  Maybe it's more like a walk through Central Park at 3AM.

OBIEE came out in August and adds a great deal of integration with Hyperion.  One of the neat features of OBIEE is a sample "Best Practices" application which shows some of the best practices for KPIs, dashboards, detailed reports, trending, and the like.  If you don't know where to start with your EPM application, check this out on OTN or  OBIEE 11g should be out within the next 12 months and it should add a lot of expansion to the existing OBIEE products to make them work better with multi-dimensional data (like Essbase).  There are more than 140 major projects as part of OBIEE 11g: so many that I can't reasonably cover them all.

One of the really neat things about OBIEE 11g is the enhancement of Answers+ to give it more of an "OLAP experience" that doesn't "flatten all the hierarchies."  They're also enhancing and optimizing the capabilities of Answers+ against Essbase.  Yes, it looks like Web Analysis really is dead.

He reiterated Kopcke's statement that Hyperion Smart View is Oracle's go forward product for Business Intelligence inside the Microsoft Office products.  He also stated that Hyperion Financial Reporting is Oracle's strategic direction for creating reports of an accounting nature.

Paul is saying so much interesting information that I'm having a hard time keeping up (and I type at 80-100 words per minute).  This is definitely the most helpful session so far.  I'm definitely not bored.  While a lot of this presentation is talking about what's currently released in Hyperion 11.1 and OBIEE, there is really good "our strategic direction for XYZ product is" information to be had.

Sadly, I have to duck out of the room now (it's about 12:20) to make it to my book signing at 12:30.  Thankfully, the bookstore is only about 100 yards from the room I'm in on the same floor.

11:03AM - EPM Management Excellence Think Tank

I just finished helping facilitate one of the two subgroups for the EPM think tank at the Westin St. Francis.  The attendance was outstanding.  There were 50+ companies there.  There were about 4 partners from the OAUG Hyperion SIG in attendance to help coordinate things.  There were also far more Oracle employees than I expected, but they were hosting the event, so I guess I'm not totally shocked.

Breakfast was put out for the attendees and it had an international flair to it.  Some of the stranger items included pickled eggplant and pickled eggs.  Some of the other things I couldn't even identify, but the people who got there earlier enough for the world-spanning buffet seemed to enjoy it.

The meeting kicked off with a brief introduction from Stephan Scholl who is over Oracle consulting for North America.  He then handed it of Gauthier Vasseur to lay the ground rules for the event.  He did a neat little magic trick with a bit of rope that turned hard when "everyone started collaborating."

They split everyone into two groups.  My group was in the "Study" room at the St. Francis Suite.  We had 30+ people in our room and I shared the facilitation with Oracle consulting honchos John Van Puffelen and Naren Truelove.

I can't go into the details of what we discussed, but I will say that our group was very forward looking.  We spent our time trying to stop looking backwards and imagine what the EPM world will look like going forward.  Almost everyone in the room participated and for the most part, we stuck to the mission (high-level creative thought) and stayed out of product details and gripes.

After the breakout sessions, everyone regrouped in the main room where John Kopcke was waiting to thank everyone for coming.  A professional photographer then came in to take a professional picture of all the attendees together in front of one of the many marble fireplaces.

I have to run now to Moscone North 2022 for a BI roadmap session.

6:03AM - My hotel room

I had to get up at 6AM so I can help setup the think tank.  Considering the time I got to bed, I'm not very happy about getting up this early.  I apologize in advance if my blog today is a bit grouchy.


Anonymous said...

Man - what I woudln't give for a signed copy of Look Smarter Than You Are. Wish I was at the conference. ;)

Anonymous said...

Would have been good if there was mention of all the effort and background to this.

I seem to recall an ROI, and at recent Hyperion Solutions, regular Pearson presentations about a business wide reporting, then BPM, now EPM programme that must have enabled this to eventually get someone to label it - never mind the Utilities they also developed.